April 20, 2012
The Chacra (little ranch) I live on is surrounded by small mountains/large hills, so there’s a nice hike in any direction you head in. Yesterday I decided to do a sunrise hike. I woke up at 6:30am and did Vipassana meditation for one hour, then bundled myself up (temperature’s in the 40′s F at night) and put my iPod, journal and Kindle into my bag.
I listened to a Philosopher’s Note on my iPod as I headed east, walking through the dry riverbed behind the house and past the Mapuche school. The Philosopher’s Note was on the book ‘The Power of Habit’ by Jack D. Hodge.
“It’s often said that habits are hard to break. This is an inaccurate statement. Habits aren’t broken; they are replaced. In other words, you replace, not erase, bad habits. This is an important distinction because if we are to change a bad habit we must carefully consider which habits we are to replace it with. Purposefully choosing new habits to replace old habits will greatly increase your chances of changing bad habits.”
So I decided to replace my habit of staying in my warm bed with taking a sunrise hike every morning. Until it starts snowing, at least.
The sun rises late here, a little after 8am, so I needed something to get me out of bed earlier – I like to get up at 6am but when it’s dark and cold out, I’m not very motivated to climb out of my Cocoon. (I literally sleep in a Cocoon, this awesome travel sheet/sleeping bag liner thing that my friend Anne gave me. It’s stretchy, so I close myself up in it to keep the mosquitos from biting my face; it’s much more comfortable than trying to keep myself covered with a normal stiff sheet all night!).
I hiked for about 30 minutes until I found a nice rock-topped hill to perch on. I wrote my three morning pages for ‘The Artist’s Way’; I read an entry from ‘A Daily Dose of Sanity’ by Alan Cohen as the earth tilted the sun into my eyes.
While I’m living here in the middle of natural beauty and space and fresh air, I’m going to make sure I get the most out of it!
I have more photos I want to share, but the crap internet connection would only allow me to upload this one; issues uploading photos has been my main delay on blogging lately. I’m hoping it’ll be easier for me to upload to a Flickr account; will keep you posted!
“Life is a fatal adventure. It can only have one end. So why not make it as far-ranging and free as possible.” – Alexander Eliot
March 11, 2012
I know I’ve done a horrible job at sharing Argentina with you via this blog. Not to mention my road trip across the US last summer. I was reviewing some photos and video last night, and there are some beautiful ones. Perhaps someday when I’m bored and have absolutely nothing to do, I will finally disinter those photos and videos for you. But considering the infinitude of interestingness on the interwebs, and immediate access to practically every book known to man on my Kindle, I’m not sure if that’s realistic.
Anyways, as far as Argentina goes at least, I’d like to make it up to you by directing you to my friend’s blog, Go!Dream!Live! No wait, it’s Dream!Go!Live! Which, when delivered to my inbox, I always read as “dreamg olive”. She does what I aspire to do – consistently shares her experience and photos of life in Buenos Aires.
It’s not that I haven’t been writing. I have been writing, lots, every day. I just haven’t been converting any of that into bloggage. I think I just need to get back into the habit of posting, and the only way I’ve successfully made habits for myself is by doing Challenges. But I’ve been focusing on the No Sugar Challenge. One at a time.
So! The No Sugar Challenge!!! On March 13th, in two days, I will have officially and successfully completed 30 days of No Sugar. This is, by a long shot, the longest I have ever gone without eating refined sugar.
What did this lack of sugar do? (And coffee – I didn’t really drink coffee at this time either, as they pretty much go together for me – I can drink coffee black, but here in Buenos Aires coffee means medialunas or cookies, and those were definitely out).
-Skin: My skin cleared up. The acne and little bumps I get, especially on my forehead, have pretty much gone away, and my psoriasis is less red. However, I did up my dairy intake exponentially while not eating sugar, so I continue to have a few pimples around my jawline and my psoriasis didn’t fully clear.
-Energy: I started waking up earlier. 5:30am most days. I love getting up early, and I love not feeling groggy. That could be as much from stopping coffee as from stopping sugar. This past week I’ve been feeling exceptionally exhausted, but I think that’s mostly due to the intensity of the Vipassana course I did last week, and a lot of emotional processing I’ve been doing. And, probably, my body trying to digest all the cheese.
-Weight: I lost a little weight, but not much, due to the large quantities of cheese and organic yogurt (sugar-free) that I’ve been eating. And steak, and pizza… I met a wonderful Dutch girl at Vipassana and during her four days in Buenos Aires I HAD to take her to all the best food spots. Of course. And, um, I bought a beautiful book called Pizzerias de Buenos Aires…
Oh and near the end of the month I also found that amazing raw sugar-free chocolate at Buenos Aires Verde, and a few days ago discovered sugar-free helado at Juaja, my favorite of which is the lemon ginger. YUM!
-Clarity/Mood: I have a lot more clarity when I’m not eating sugar – clarity as to what I want in life, what really makes me happy, insights into myself and others. Last time I gave up alcohol/sugar for a few weeks, a series of events occurred that led to me leaving Los Angeles and moving to Argentina. And this time, a series of events occurred that led to me making plans to move to Patagonia. Anyways there’s increasing research about the drug-like negative effects of sugar on your mood and body, and things react differently with different people. I definitely have a negative reaction to sugar. I’m aware of this. It doesn’t mean I won’t be eating sugar on March 13th – I will! – but I hope that sugar (like alcohol) will become an increasingly rare addition to my diet.
I love not eating sugar. I also love eating sugar. So, that’s that.
And aside from the dairy and sugar-free treats, 70% of my diet this month has been fruits and veggies, so that’s awesome. I’m quite proud that I went a whole month without caving to medialunas or the apple crumble and dulce de leche they had the last day of Vipassana, or the other things that tempted me every day of the last month.
As I was saying at the beginning, my apologies for not having shared more of my journey with you up to this point. I’ll be posting some photos and maybe a video tour of my current home here in BA, and hopefully filling you in on some of the best eateries and cafes (like the very photogenic Bardepan). My 33rd birthday is next week and a friend is flying down from San Francisco; we’ll be revisiting all of my favorite things about BA before heading down to Patagonia.
Love and light and cheese!
February 22, 2012
Along with giving up sugar (and, I just realized, all other intoxicants, ie coffee) I’ve decided to give up commitments, obligations, guilt and shame.
It’s been magical. Yesterday was one of the best days of my life.
More to come – I’m working on a couple of drafts simultaneously – but I had to share these quotes I found on a website that details how to live on a boat:
One of the most tragic things
I know about human nature
is that all of us tend to put off living.
We are all dreaming of some
magical rose garden over the horizon
instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming
outside our windows today.
- Dale Carnegie
I like to walk about among
the beautiful things that adorn the world;
but private wealth I should decline,
or any sort of personal possessions,
because they would take away my liberty.
- George Santayana
February 19, 2012
I’ve been refined sugar-free for six days now!
I’m feeling happier. I think there are two reasons: 1. Sugar causes mood swings and 2. I’m not hating on myself for sugar binging or not acting in integrity with what I want to be: healthy.
The cravings haven’t been too bad. I did eat a lot of dried fruit and nuts the first few days, and I’m eating more dairy than I usually do (which is barely any). But I’m ok with that!
Yesterday I bought some freshly-made organic yogurt and honey from the El Galpon Farmer’s Market in the Chacarita neighborhood of Buenos Aires (the only place I know of where you can get organic stuff in BA…). The yogurt comes in a big beautiful bottle and was delish with the super-dark grainy honey:
Yes, honey’s technically a sugar but, unlike refined sugar, honey’s not toxic to your system, doesn’t cause dramatic blood sugar spikes (it may actually IMPROVE blood sugar control) and has an insane number of health benefits: it’s anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral. You can use it to help heal burns and wounds, you can use it on your face to clear up acne (which I do occassionally). It can help with sore throats, allergies, even weight loss! As I’m reading more about honey the list is getting way too long (athletic performance, free radicals, cholesterol, immune system, anti-cancer…jeez!) so for more info check it here and here and here. (I’m pretty sure all of these are from raw honey, not the honey you by in a regular store, which is probably counterfeit honey from China.*)
Unfortunately, according to one of those honey sites, the answer to the question “How much honey can I eat every day?” is NOT “Eat as much as you can.” Damn.
Even the Bible mentions honey, according to the editors of Wikipedia. Funny honey quote:
“While Jonathan was passing through the woods during the war against the Philistines, he found honey dripping on the ground; he plunged his spear into it, and ate enough to restore his lost strength. He was, however, sentenced to death because he ate honey on a day of abstinence”.
So, this next part has nothing to do with sugar or honey, but… Well, actually, it does, in a roundabout way.
Some of my favorite bits:
“All those paths lead to one answer “we are all one and our only job is to be unconditional love and remember”.
It’s all in the remembering… From broken and alone to whole and complete and part of the whole that is The Uni-verse…
I am broken when I forget and whole and complete when I remember.”
Mollie’s bio led me to google the documentary she produced, May I be Frank, a documentary “exploring the transformations possible through healthy eating and positive thinking”:
Which looks AMAZING.
So, to tie this all together – I’m pretty sure Frank was eating way too much sugar. I haven’t seen the entire movie yet, so maybe honey even played a roll in his transformation.
I think we’d all do a little better with less sugar, more honey!
*If you are getting your honey from Walmart, Target, Cost Plus, Sam’s Club, Walgreen’s, Rite Aid, CVS, or individual packets from Smucker’s, McDonalds or KFC, there is a 70-100% chance that it’s not actually honey, as defined by the food industry (containing pollen), and could be watered down with high fructose corn syrup. Trader Joe’s honey, thank goodness, is legit.
February 13, 2012
I am addicted to sugar. I never felt truly addicted to smoking or alcohol or drugs – none of which I put in my body anymore – but sugar still kicks my ass. Anyone who’s followed my blog these last few years has read about my trails and tribulations with sugar many, many times.
I am also allergic to sugar. It makes my system acidic, causing inflammation, which makes me break out (little tiny pimples all over my face) and contributes to flare-ups of psoriasis. I’ve had psoriasis consistently for almost two years now.
I’ve given up sugar a few times in the past, but never made it longer than a few weeks. I tried again at the beginning of 2012, but after 6 days (during which I felt amazing) I caved and went back to my cycle of sugar binging.
So this time, I’ve decided to place a wager. I’ve bet my friend China Brooks that I can go 30 days without eating refined sugar, starting today. She also is going sugar-free, and if either of us give into temptation during the 30 days, we have to Paypal the other $25. I don’t generally make bets but I’m pretty sure I’m too proud and stubborn to lose one.
Many people are unaware of the truth about sugar – how addictive it is, how toxic it is, and how prevalent it is in processed foods. I’ve experienced the physical, emotional and spiritual gains that come with giving it up. I’ll be exploring these over the next 30 days as I share my experiences and struggles and, hopefully, win my bet.
February 5, 2012
I feel like I haven’t blogged in ages. I’ve been struggling with the Resistance.
Not the Resistance to writing, but the Resistance to doing watercolors for a friend’s children’s book that I’m illustrating, and the Resistance to working as a Music Manager and booking venues here in Buenos Aires and in New York for a tour with the artist I manage, Jonisio il Solista. I feel inadequate at painting, and inadequate at booking a tour. One I haven’t done in about 10 years and the other I’ve never done. I’ve been trying to remind myself that every single person who’s ever done something was first a beginner, but I don’t like being a beginner. I don’t like not knowing what I’m doing. It freaks me out and the Resistance steps in and says, “We’ll start tomorrow. Instead, why don’t you stay up til 4am reading Anthony Keidi’s autobiography, or go get a coffee at your favorite cafe, or meditate, or see if anyone loves you on Facebook, or read some fascinating science article about how incense is an antidepressant. We’ll start tomorrow.”
Of course, tomorrow never comes, because it’s always only ever NOW, NOW, NOW, and if I don’t make the choice to start NOW, I never start. And then the anxiety builds, and the time runs out, and people ask, “But what have you been doing?” And I don’t write or blog because I feel like I shouldn’t be writing or blogging, I should be ‘working,’ even though I know it’s only work to my fearful, overprotective ego, and in reality it’s PLAY. I mean, painting and researching music venues????? How retarded can I be, to let myself convince myself that that’s work that I don’t want to do/am afraid to do/can’t do well enough?
As I realized when I got down here, and all the things that I believed were barriers to my ideal life were removed: living your dreams is terrifying to the ego.
And you, dear reader, may be sitting there saying, “Well, she’s got it made. She’s getting to do all this cool stuff in Argentina. MY life sucks, though. I have REAL barriers. I have a crappy job. If I were in her shoes, I would totally be doing those things, I would totally be happy.”
Maybe you would be. But unless you are already creating, already living your ideal life, I bet if you were freed from the things you feel are currently limiting you, you’d be doing the same thing I am. Because what some Argentinian spray-painted on a bridge in the photo above is true – the only barriers are mental. They are never external. Our only barrier is our ego’s fear.
And every day I’m witnessing what a tricky bastard the ego is. Tricky bastard, but also, at heart, a loving thing that really only wants to protect us from pain and from the “death” of failure.
So, that’s where me and my ego are at right now. As soon as I post this, I intend to put on the audiobook The Alchemist to remind me that what I’m doing here is attempting to live my Personal Legend, and I’m going to sit down and paint.
Below is an excerpt and multiple quotes (ok, practically half the book, but it’s just so TRUE) from The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, a book that gives me hope and makes me feel less retarded:
There’s a secret that real writers [artists/creators] know that wannabe writers [artists/creators] don’t and the secret is this: it’s not the writing [painting/creating] part that’s hard. What’s hard is sitting down to write [paint/create].
What keeps us from sitting down is Resistance.
Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.
Have you ever brought home a treadmill and let it gather dust in the attic? Ever resolved on a diet, a course of yoga, a meditation practice? Have you ever felt a call to embark upon a spiritual practice, dedicate yourself to a humanitarian calling, commit your life to the service of others? Have you ever wanted to be a mother, a doctor, an advocate for the weak and helpless; to run for office, crusade for the planet, campaign for world peace or to preserve the environment? Late at night have you experienced a vision of the person you might become, the work you could accomplish, the realized being you were meant to be? Are you a writer who doesn’t write, a painter who doesn’t paint, an entrepreneur who never starts a venture? Then you know what Resistance is.
Resistance is the most toxic force on the planet. It is the root of more unhappiness than poverty, disease and erectile dysfunction. To yield to Resistance deforms our spirit. It stunts us and makes us less than we are and were born to be. If you believe in God (and I do) you must declare Resistance evil, for it prevents us from achieving the life God intended when He endowed each of us with our own unique genius. Genius is a Latin word; the Romans used it to denote an inner spirit, holy and inviolable, which watches over us, guiding us to our calling.. A writer writes with his genius; an artist paints with hers; everyone who creates operates from this sacramental center. It is our soul’s seat, the vessel that holds our being-in-potential, our star’s beacon and Polaris.
Every sun casts a shadow, and genius‘ shadow is Resistance. As powerful as is our soul’s call to realization, so potent are the forces of Resistance arrayed against it. Resistance is faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, harder to kick than crack cocaine. We’re not alone if we’ve been mown down by Resistance; millions of good men and women have bitten the dust before us. And here’s the biggest bitch: we don’t even know what hit us. I never did. From age twenty-four to thirty-two, Resistance kicked my ass from East Coast to West and back again thirteen times and I never even knew it existed. I looked everywhere for the enemy and failed to see it right in front of my face.
The instinct that pulls us toward art is the impulse to evolve, to learn, to heighten and elevate our consciousness. The Ego hates this. Because the more awake we become, the less we need the Ego.
The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it. The more you love your art/ calling/ enterprise, the more important its accomplishment to the evolution of your soul, the more you will fear it and the more Resistance you will experience facing it.
Resistance cannot be seen, touched, heard, or smelled. But it can be felt. We experience it as an energy field radiating from a work-in-potential… Its aim is to shove us away, distract us, prevent us from doing our work.
The most pernicious aspect of procrastination is that it can become a habit. We don’t just put off our lives today; we put them off till our deathbed.
The professional has learned that success, like happiness, comes as a by-product of work.
Evolution has programmed us to feel rejection in our guts. This is how the tribe enforced obedience, by wielding the threat of expulsion. Fear of rejection isn’t just psychological; it’s biological. It’s in our cells.
The professional dedicates himself to mastering technique not because he believes technique is a substitute for inspiration but because he wants to be in possession of the full arsenal of skills when inspiration does come.
We fear discovering that we are more than we think we are… That we actually have the guts, the perseverance, the capacity… because, if it’s true, then we become estranged from all we know.
January 17, 2012
After posting my most vulnerable and honest blog ever, and getting the most feedback ever, I was left with the question… Now what do I write about?
One thing that came up repeatedly in response to the post was people – many of them friends I’ve known for years – saying: “It’s amazing how similar our stories/our fathers are.” That was one of the reasons I felt compelled to share my (I thought) unusual reaction to my father’s death – while I know I was risking seeming insensitive to the death of a family member by admitting I was relieved, and it made me uncomfortable sharing so much, I figured there had to be others who had the same experience that I did.
Actually, after he died and I downloaded a bunch of Motown music, I started googling around to see if it was ‘normal’ to have conflicting feelings at the death of an alcoholic parent. I didn’t really find anything that described what I was going through. The next morning, when I woke up at 6am, I started typing the blog post on my Droid. It was one of those pieces that just writes itself, that flows out of you intact.
The experience reminded me of the Elizabeth Gilbert TED talk, in which she brilliantly explains writing, creativity and our skewed take on genius.
The Greeks and Romans used to believe that creativity, rather than coming from humans, was actually a spirit that came to people from a “distant and unknowable source.” Some called it a daemon, some called it a genius. A person wasn’t a genius; they had a genius who would come and help them out with their work. To me, sounds like tapping into the collective unconscious. Anyways, Elizabeth points out that this takes the pressure off of artists. And, that the artist’s only job is to show up and work. It’s the genius’s job to make it good.
Ole, Allah, a glimpse of god. A glimpse, a remembrance of the truth we are each connected to.
“Just do your job, continue to show up for your piece of it… Ole to you nonetheless…just for having to have the sheer human love and stubborness to keep showing up.”